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Posts Tagged ‘trusting God’

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2 Timothy 3:12

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Christians who are blessed enough to live in the United States are lucky. We don’t know what true persecution is. For the majority of us, we have never had to answer the question, “Do you believe in God?” knowing the answer could mean our death. We have become lazy in our faith.

My daughter, Cree, just started college and has become part of a Christian fraternity called, Chi Alpha. She met a young Egyptian man who has been beaten for his faith. He is 20 years old and has been in the U.S. for 3 years now. In Egypt, he was beaten because of his faith. Even at his young age, he was not ashamed to say Yes, when faced with the ultimate question, “Do you believe in God?” I had to admit to my daughter, that I am not sure how I would answer that life or death question. I would like to think I would say, yes, with complete faith in Jesus, but honestly, I don’t know. I think if we are honest, most of American Christians do not know how they would answer that question, if it meant they would be beaten and killed. We have become lazy in our faith. Now, before you get fired up with righteous indignation, I am as lazy in my faith as the next American Christian. I try, but then I get busy, distracted, and tired. These are my excuses. Completely lame and when it comes to following Jesus, no excuse is a good excuse for being lazy in our faith.

When I think of our Christian brothers and sisters in China, India, the Middle East and other countries where Christians are persecuted, I feel guilty for my laziness and my lack of passion for all that Jesus has done for me. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice! He gave His life, so that we can have eternal life with God. He died, so we may live. I feel ashamed that I have not been willing to make any sacrifices for the one who gave His life for me.

There are 4 important lessons that we can learn from these persecuted Christians:

  1. Hunger– They have a true hunger for the Word of God. Some of them do not even have access to full Bibles, but tuck away the bits and pieces of scripture they have to encourage themselves and others. They memorize the scripture that they have access to and truly hide the Word in their hearts. They know that having a Bible or having anything with scripture written on it could cost them their lives, so they hide the Word of God in their hearts. American Christians have access to Bibles, Christian bookstores, Online Bible commentaries, etc. With all of our access to the Scriptures, most of us never crack open our Bibles, except on Sunday mornings. Sometimes, not even then, because the sermon scripture is usually shown on the big screen at the front of the church. We listen to the sermon and never give it a second thought as we go about our weekly duties. We never memorize scripture. We think that as long as we dedicate one day a week to God, that should be enough to get us into Heaven, right? Think again.
  2. Prayer– They pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Bible tells us pray continually, but here in America, we usually only pray when we need something or times are tough. We very rarely pray when things are going well. Prayers of thanksgiving and praise are few and far between. Our persecuted brothers and sisters pray continually. Not only do they pray continually, the majority of their prayers are prayers of thanksgiving and praise! They give thanks in their suffering! They lift their voices in praise for their trials! As we, Americans Christians, sit here and wallow in our misery, wondering why God doesn’t work on our behalf.
  3. Sacrifice– They sacrifice their safety and well-being to meet together, read the Bible, and even talk about the Gospel. They know what true sacrifice means. They know that if they are caught meeting together, possessing a Bible, or talking about the Gospel they could be beaten, imprisoned, or killed. In America, we are blessed with the freedom to worship as we wish. Reading the Bible in public will not cost us our lives. Meeting together will not cause us to be imprisoned. Sharing the Gospel will not result in us being beaten. We sacrifice very little to follow Jesus. Even in tithing, we figure out our bills and then see how much we have left to give back to God. Our persecuted brothers and sisters give out of their poverty, trusting that God will provide their needs.
  4. Unified– They are unified in their faith. They come together in unity as the ONE Church of Jesus Christ. In America, we are all divided by man made denominations. We allow ourselves to be separated by denominational lines. Each denomination thinks that they are “right”, even though, each denomination interprets scripture to suit their own beliefs. We need to let go of our denominational ties and worship God as ONE Church.

I am challenging Christians in America to WAKE UP! We never know when we may be asked that one question that could cost us our lives. What will your answer be, if challenged by the question, “Do you believe in God?” Will you fearfully answer no, or will you say YES, trusting God for the outcome?

Psalm 86:11-13

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

This is my prayer. Let it be yours, also.

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thorn in the flesh

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

No one really knows what the thorn in Paul’s flesh was. It doesn’t really matter what it was. What we do know is that, it was a messenger from Satan, sent to torment him and keep him from becoming conceited. God refused to remove the the thorn in Paul’s flesh. I have wondered if Paul had an arrogant personality and God used this thorn to remind him of who was in control.

Poverty has been the thorn in my side for 22 years now. I have prayed for God to pour out financial blessings on me and my children, but He does not. That isn’t to say that He doesn’t provide. He absolutely does provide! Vehicles break down, but I get to work and the kids get to where they need to be. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. It is hard to struggle paycheck to paycheck, but I know that my survival completely depends on God. I understand that God wants me to experience true Holy Spirit given joy in my life regardless of how much money I have in my bank account. God wants me to look to Him for fulfillment and not material possessions. God wants me to trust Him to provide for my needs instead of trying to provide for myself without Him. Only in depending on Jehovah Jireh alone does my relationship with Him grow in intimacy. Only in trusting God alone is my relationship with Him taken to the next level. It is not always easy and there are times when I want to scream at the unfairness of it all. Why should millions of people have to suffer in poverty when there are many many people who hoard their wealth, refusing to share with those in need. I will admit that even after 22 years I am still learning to be content with my circumstances. I am a work in progress!

What is the thorn in your flesh? Have you cried out to God to remove it? What is the lesson that God might be wanting to teach you by not removing it? Will you allow God to work in your heart and draw you closer to Him?

In a journal or other safe place I urge you to have a conversation with God and open your heart to what God is trying to show you. Let it all out. Don’t be afraid to open up your heart to God. He can handle it. God has not placed this thorn in your flesh to punish you, but to mold you and to draw you closer to Him. Stop fighting it and find out what it is God wants you to know.

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faith

 

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:7

For we live by faith, not by sight.

 

I have loved researching my Mormon Pioneer ancestry. It was a long, difficult journey from Denmark to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1861, but they chose to leave their homeland, believing they would find something better. My great great grandmother, Anna Mette Jensen was 18 at the time. She made the journey with her parents and 2 brothers. They left her 2 older siblings behind in Denmark. The part that really inspired me was that Anna and her brothers walked 1000 miles between Florence (now Omaha), Nebraska and Salt Lake City. All of the kids walked. They walked! I know they had made the journey with their parents, but they HAD to have believed that there was something more for them. I believe that even the kids had hope for a better life, that God had more in store for them than what they were living. I believe that the kids chose to trust in their parents, just like God wants us to trust Him. They walked by faith.

I am not a Mormon, but I admire the faith they had in God. They left everything they had, because they chose to believe that God had a plan for them. I don’t believe that any of them did this on a whim. They were responsible adults, parents that believed in God for a better life.

I admire these pioneers, because so often I have let fear keep me from walking by faith. I have been so afraid of losing control that I lose sight of a God who has EVERYTHING under control. I have failed God and I have failed myself. I believe that God has something more for me. I believe that there is a risk that I am supposed to take, a cliff that I need to jump off of, a ladder I need to climb. It scares me. It terrifies me, this idea of trusting an unseen God with my life. Can I really call this living, if I am not living radically for God? Is this really what life is supposed to be? Doesn’t God want us to be so on fire for Him that it doesn’t matter what the risk is. If we aren’t living that life, then are we living at all?

Just my thoughts on being totally, completely sold out to God. If God has called you to something bigger than yourself, if you have a gi-normous dream that you think is unrealistic. I am urging you to trust God. Walk by faith, not by your current circumstances, your lack of money, or lack of resources. God has all the resources in the universe in the palm of His hand and will use them for you, if you believe.

I see the edge of the cliff ahead of me. Do you see it? I’m jumping. Are you? Take my hand and we can jump together. God has this and He won’t let us fall.

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our burdens

 

 

Psalm 68:19

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

 

Every day brings with it trials and problems to solve. We have a choice in how we deal with those trials: A. We can worry and fret about them until we make ourselves sick, B. We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is fine, or C. We can place our problems in God’s hands and trust Him to work it all out.

I don’t know about you, but I worry and fret about things all the time and all it has gotten me is high blood pressure and the warning to lessen the stress in my life or I will have a heart attack by the time I am 50. I have tried to live in denial, but eventually problems need to be solved and action needs to be taken.

In my life, I have found it so much easier to give it all to God. He is more than capable of dealing with whatever life throws at us and He wants to bear our burdens. He said so in the above passage! God already has the answers to our problems. He wants to bear our burdens and not on a yearly, or monthly basis, but on a daily basis. Our heavenly Father wants us to surrender our burdens to Him on a daily basis.

A challenge:

For the next 7 days, I challenge you to take God at His word. Every morning when you wake up, surrender your burdens to Him who loves you. Tell Him everything you have to deal with that day and surrender it to Him. Take care of what you need to take care of, as far as that issue goes, but leave the outcome to God. Refuse to let worry or denial cloud your heart and mind. Instead, let the peace of God enter your spirit.

I want to hear how this challenge has worked out for you. Are you at peace with the daily struggles of life? It isn’t always easy to keep worry and anxieties at bay, but trusting God is worth the effort.

 

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